cover image MILDRED AND SAM


Sharleen Collicott, . . HarperCollins/ Geringer, $15.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-06-026681-3

Collicott's (Toestomper and the Caterpillars) cheery I Can Read Book introduces an endearing mouse couple living in a small hollow beneath a crop of daffodils. While Sam is content with their cozy home, Mildred is "fidgety" and fears that their abode isn't large enough. "There is no room for visitors," she tells Sam. In the first of the tale's three chapters, the duo's outings (a climb up an oak tree, a picnic on a lily pad, a tea-and-cookies repast in a rose thicket) lead Mildred on each occasion to ask, "Wouldn't it be nice to live here?" Sam's levelheaded responses (e.g., "But there is no door to keep us safe from the great owl," he says of the oak tree) inspire Mildred to dream whimsical scenarios, vividly portrayed in enchanting illustrations. (a painting of the owl carrying the couple skyward also reveals their tool for escape—an umbrella with which to parachute down). Mildred's dreams in the second section—which spring from her efforts to plant a garden—take on outlandish, decidedly child-pleasing proportions. Finally, the reasons for Mildred's "fidgeting" and nesting instincts are revealed: the couple welcomes eight new additions to their burrow—the payoff for Sam's feverish digging (to provide "plenty of room for visitors—just in case"). A well-balanced narrative with plenty of judiciously repeated phrases, plus fetching graphics, make this a fine choice for beginning readers, who will want to find out what happens to the mouse family next. Ages 3-7. (Jan.)